Keechant Sewell, first woman to lead the NYPD

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This January 1, New York marked a historic milestone. Keechant Sewell became the first woman in 176 years to assume leadership of this city’s police force. The former detective will have the challenge of reforming the Police Department that urgently needs changes due to complaints about police brutality and racism.

America’s largest police force will be led, for the first time, by a woman. Keechant Sewell became the chief of the New York Police Department on January 1. In addition, he is the third African-American person to assume this position.

Sewell, 49, was working as the Nassau County police chief of detectives. She has also been in the police force for 25 years, where she served as a police officer, patrol officer, detective, and hostage negotiator. Now, as commissioner, she will have to manage more than 35,000 officers.

His election was heralded by New York City Mayor-elect Eric Adams, who followed through on his campaign promise to hand this office over to a woman. It also included five women as deputy mayors.

The last African-American person to lead the New York Police Department was Lee Brown in 1990. Before him, Benjamin Ward served in 1980.

With his entry into work, Sewell will have several challenges. Among them, reducing the homicide rate that has been increasing since the beginning of the pandemic, as well as the increasing presence of shootings in the Big Apple. At the same time, the city’s police, who have been denounced for racist acts and police brutality, will have to give it a new face. A situation that is replicated in several cities in the country.

Police brutality in America

The death of African-American George Floyd, at the hands of police brutality, prompted the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020. In it, activists and citizens demand that the authorities reform the police in the United States.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of Washington and published in The Lancet newspaper revealed that between 1980 and 2018, the US National Vital Statistics System recorded that 13,700 people died from police violence.

However, examining three open source non-governmental databases (Fatal Encounters, Mapping Police Violence and The Counted) they estimated the actual total to be around 30,800.

Police brutality deaths disproportionately impact people of certain races and ethnicities, highlighting systemic racism in policing. Sewell inherits a department in need of change and a city overwhelmed by rising crime since the start of the pandemic.

With EFE, AP, Reuters and local media

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